Somaliland Stokes Tension with China over Taiwan

Somaliland has the right to have relations with other nations as it was born free and is a sovereign nation, the foreign minister of the breakaway Somali region said during a trip to Taiwan; a trip Beijing has condemned.

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 but hasn’t received widespread international recognition. Most of the region has been peaceful, unlike Somalia, which has been ravaged by civil war for three decades.

Both Somaliland and Taiwan, which are also diplomatically isolated by China, opened representative offices in each other’s capitals in 2020, angering Beijing and Mogadishu.

Located strategically on the Horn of Africa, Somaliland borders Djibouti, where China maintains its first overseas military base.

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By hosting a high-level Somaliland delegation this week, Taiwan has stoked opposition to the independence and unification of other countries, China’s Foreign Ministry said.

During a press conference, Somaliland Foreign Minister, Essa Kayd, stated that China cannot dictate to his country.

“We were born free and we will stay free. We will run our business the way we want. China cannot dictate, no other country can dictate,” he said, adding that his government is open to doing business with any country that respects them as sovereign and does not demand anything in return.

“I think that’s as clear as I can go on China.”

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Only tiny eSwatini now maintains full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which has been forced out of Africa by China in recent years.

As China seeks to assert its sovereignty claims, it has stepped up its pressure on countries not to engage with Taiwan. The two countries frequently make barbs about using “dollar diplomacy” with loans and cash gifts to get international recognition.

According to Finance Minister, Saad Ali, Somaliland has not asked Taiwan for any loans but Taiwan has provided aid and investment to Somaliland, which is welcome.

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